Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alligators Love To Eat Dogs

Below is a warning from Reggie Little to all hog hunters on Facebook.

Yes, Reggie is on Facebook. I know... what is this world coming to?

Anyway, I copied and pasted below:

Reggie Little on Facebook: All you hog hunters!!
If you are hunting the rivers and bayous, watch close, the gators are hungry!!!
The Poticaw crew lost a hell of a gyp to a big one today.

Reggie's warning caused me to consider writing a little more about this issue of gators eating dogs.

And being an authority on the subject of gators,
I thought I should share my knowledge, and experiences.

You see I am a swamp tour guide and I deal with gators every day.

Last year 5 dogs(not mine) were eaten by gators at the boat landing where I launch my tours.

Alligators are like many predators, they are opportunists and like to hang out and wait for an opportunity to present itself and then they pounce with lightning speed. Opportunity translates into; something approaches, gets too close and then: Easy catch.

After they catch their prey they usually drown it to kill it, but a small prey, like a dog, could be killed instantly by the crushing force of the gators jaws when it clamps shut on the initial catch. So if your dog gets caught by a gator and you are there, you should do everything you can do to free it because it may survive. Problem is, there is a very slight chance it may survive, and there isn't much you can do if you are on land and it is in the water except shoot it. And my advise is even if you know your dog is dead, shoot it, because if it ate one, it will likely eat more if it survives.

Oh we could start a large argument as to whether you are legal to shoot an alligator or not. They are federally protected, and so is your dog. You have the right to protect your property. The idea that alligators are an endangered species is some city slicker nonsense, as ridiculous as eating Popsicles in February.

One day, I came up on Maurice baying at the waters edge, and I knew it was a good bay, because he was backed up and serious in tone. If you hunt a dog a lot, you can tell a lot about what they are baying, by the way they bark. I was hunting by myself, with no one but Maurice and some young ones. Well, as I approached, it appeared he had him backed up and in the water. So I slowly moved up because I didn't want the hog to bust and start swimming away from land. We were on a point and the only escape the hog had was to swim across open water, and if he did that, Maurice was going in and catch, and probably drown the hog or get eaten by a gator.

And the only thing I could see was a black plastic trash bag with garbage in it, slightly floating. Interesting...

So I thought about it, and I knew Maurice had already seen dogs get eaten by gators and I know they have tried to eat him too. And I realized that the garbage bag looked just like a gator in the water, it was black and shiny, textured by the trash inside, and floating. The scene brought a smile to my face. He wasn't taking any chances.

Well the baying brought the rest of the pack, and they came rushing up directly behind Maurice and I observed him doing the smartest thing I may have ever seen him do. He began backing away from the "bay" before the young ones got there. For two reasons, if it was a gator as he assumed, he could be bumped into harms way if he stood there, and if the gator charged him and someone was behind him, he might be blocked in his retreat. Or... and this is nature, maybe he was willing to allow the young to be sacrificed so he could survive. Nonetheless, as soon as help arrived Maurice backed out.

Now understand Maurice had covered thousands of miles on his own in the swamp and survived many a gator. He knew what a gator was by sight and smell, and he knew what a gator was capable of in terms of the speed of a gator in the water, is lightning fast. That spot where I came upon him had gators in the vicinity, so the smell was there and the garbage bag looked like a gator, and that was enough for him to bay.

Which first brought me in, and then a few minutes later, the young ones came charging in.

A few years later, I was camped on the Vermillion River behind Lafayette and I heard Maurice's sister baying over by the water edge not far from the camp. I went over to investigate because it was a serious bay and if it was a gator, the young ones could come rushing in and be eaten. As I approached Desire' was well back from the water and sure enough, right where all the dogs had been going down to the river to drink and to bath, was a 10 footer just waiting for someone to get stupid. I went back to the camp and got the 22 magnum bolt action rifle and put him to school. He learned the hard way about the consequences of trying to eat de la Houssaye's dogs.

I have shared these two stories to illustrate that a seasoned dog has sight and scent detection allowing them to survive gators to some degree. They can survive gators if they are careful at the waters edge when drinking, and if they don't get in the water to cool off. But if you hunt in the summertime, your dogs need to drink and to get wet to stay cool. Always be aware that your dog cannot out swim a gator in the water. A hungry gator can propel themselves so fast by the power of their tail, they can literally get up on the water and run on the surface. I have seen them do this, and the first time I saw a gator running on the surface of the water, I could not believe my eyes.

Another dog that had great respect for gators was Bobalou.

Because Bob witnessed gators eating dogs, I had to leash him and drag him in with me if he smelled gator and I wanted him to cross a swamp with me. He would not obey the command to follow me if it was across water and he smelled reptiles in the area.

He had run hundreds of miles in the swamp and was taught to survive by Maurice.

When a hog is on the run, he has one objective and that is to get the dog off his trail. A hog is smart enough to run through a herd of cows or deer and hope the dog is distracted by the movement of other animals long enough to allow him to escape.

A hog uses every aspect of the environment to his advantage. And an alligator presents a very easy way for him to get a dog off his tail. Imagine if you will a hog on the run, and then stopping to be bayed at a gator hole. It shouldn't take too long for the gator to come out and seize the opportunity for an easy meal. Here is another example of how a GPS tracking collar can help you know exactly where your dog is and what happened to your dog. And... at that point if you want your collar it is very simple. Kill the gator and open up it's belly.

I like to hunt in the marsh and swamp, and I am painfully aware of the dangers there, because I have had some dogs come up missing in certtain places. And it may be difficult for you to imagine that a hog is smart enough to use an alligator to get a dog off his tail, so I will try to get in touch with Joey and have him tell me the story about the gator they killed a few years ago that had several tracking collars in its belly. It has been a long time since I heard the story, and I want to hear it again, because at the time I first heard it, I couldn't believe a hog was that smart, and before I retell the story here, I want to hear myself again. I have gotten a lot wiser since then. And considering the close calls I had at the boat landing last year before we took out the dog eater there, it looks like a hog who has figured out that alligators love to eat dogs, is going to lead your dogs to a gator hole if he can.

This is Simon, and had I not been paying attention to the dog eater at the landing, he would have got him right about the time I took this picture last year.

And had I not been paying attention that day I saw the gator go down, and then I run over and grab my dog, and stepped back to watch the gator surface right where Simon was playing in the water, before I plucked him out, you would not be able to to see these photos now.

It amazes me how many people are looking for finished dogs, and don't understand the value of raising a puppy in the environment where thy will ultimately be hunting in maturity.

I suggest your main objective be to keep your dogs healthy and alive, because them hogs got some very hungry meat eating friends out there.

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